Hot Springs in Tuscany: Petriolo and Saturnia
Tuscany is rich in natural hot springs.
There are two within a short drive from Civitella Marittima: the Petriolo hot springs, located only 15 km away and the thermal baths at Saturnia less than an hour’s drive away.
In the Comune of Civitella Paganico, Roman baths have also been dicovered at Pietrotonda and are currently undergoing restoration as part of a project involving the University of Siena and the Europoean Community.
The Petriolo Thermal Baths and Natural Hot Springs
At the Petriolo, you can indulge at the luxury Spa and beauty centre or at the brand new spa center by the natural hot pools, which offers massage, beauty and health treatments, or you can enjoy the hot springs (43°C), open to the public free of charge, where you can relax in the pools along the banks of the river Farma.
The spas at the Petriolo are open from May to October.
The Petriolo’s thermal baths are very ancient. The Romans knew and appreciated them. It is very likely that these are the baths mentioned by the orator Marco Tullio Cicero in his pro Marco Caelio.
Recently, Roman tombs have been found in the area, proof of a long time recognition of the beneficial effects of this water.
It is without doubt that these hot springs were highly appreciated in the Middle age and during the Renaissance period. As early as 1215, the Republic of Siena maintained a series of “stationes”, a sort of “bathing hut” for single “bathers”, similar to today’s beach cabins.
Many important people are known to have frequented the Petriolo thermal baths: the Medici, Lords of Florence, the Gonzaga, Lords of Manuta and leading exponents of the Church including Pope Pious II Piccolomini.
Also of note are the remains of the ancient walls built in 404 in the typical Sienese architectural style, which are the only exisitng example of fortifies thermae (fortified thermal baths).
Of the original baths, composed by four groined vaulted rooms, only one room still exists. It opens onto the river Farma with arches built on octagonal pillars.
Besides the hot springs, the Farma river is perfect for bathing and swimming, and the surrounding woods offer many nice spots for a picnic.
As an alternative, here is a proposal for a 7.5km itinerary for walking, horseback riding, biking or driving.
The Petriolo hot springs are very easy to reach from Casina di Rosa.
From Civitella Marittima, head along highway 223/E78 towards Siena. After about 15 km exit at the signs marked Iesa / Petriolo.
Turn right as you come off the exit ramp and follow the road as it descends into the beautiful Farma valley until you come to the thermal baths.
The Saturnia Thermal Baths and Natural Hot Springs
The Saturnia thermal baths have an origin rooted in mythology.
It is said that Saturn, the Roman god of the harvest, lost his temper with men, who were constantly in conflict with one another. He hurled a bolt of lightning at the Earth and from the resulting crater sprang hot sulphorous water which flowed over the combatative men and calmed them. It is said that from that point forward man was born wiser and happier.
Legend also has it that the waters of Saturnia healed the wounds of the brave paladin of Charlemagne Orlando, the hero of Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”.
To reach Saturnia from Civitella Marittima, take highway SS223/E78 towards Grosseto and follow the signs for Scansano, Montemerano and, finally, Saturnia.
While at Saturnia, take the opportunity to visit the nearby Etruscan-Roman cities of Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano, the castle at Montemerano and the Fiora Valley Archaeological Museum at Manciano.
Want to know more?
Those looking to find out more can consult the list of links dedicated to thermal baths in Tuscany on our links page.